Palau suffered its lowest ever tourism arrivals since 2010, with 106, 309 visitors for the Year 2018.
The latest statistics from the Palau Visitors Authority (PVA) showed that foreign visitor numbers have declined year-on-year since 2016, which was attributed to the pullout of two airlines in 2018- Palau Pacific Airways and Delta Airlines.
All markets except visitors coming from Taiwan registered a drop in arrivals for the fiscal year 2018 compared to the previous fiscal year of 2017.
Arrivals from China went down by 10 percent for FY2018 compared to 2017. The January to December 2018 also showed a significant decline of 29 percent in arrivals from China.
There were 41,317 tourists in 2018 from China compared to 57,866 in 2017.
Taiwan arrivals for 2018 was at 11,000 tourists compared to only 9,000 in 2017.
Japan arrivals for 2018 was at 22,416 visitors, a big drop from the 26,031 tourists in 2017.
The decline has also spread to the hotel scene with also reported a drop in room occupancy rate for 2018.
Although Japan Airlines flew in Palau in December it only brought 197 passengers. JAL flies to Palau as seasonal charter flight.
Amid the tourism downturn, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. remains optimistic about growth in 2019.
The president attributed the decline as a success to its decision in 2016 to cut down the charter flights in half to stem the tide of mass tourism.
“The whole government, we have made a commitment to go towards quality tourism rather quantity tourism, by cutting the charter flights, this was a blessing in disguise because the data is showing that the policy is working,” Remengesau told reporters.
Remengesau also said that there are several other international airlines to come in Palau.
China Airlines have already announced that it will increase its flights to Palau to one more direct service.
Starting February 18, 2019, there will be three flights from Taiwan to Koror. (Bernadette H. Carreon)